After I made those cinnamon scrolls last week and bragged about them to the internet, I had a few requests for the recipe. Well, I can’t give you the recipe, because for once in my life, I was actually following a recipe properly, and that recipe came from The Great Australian Bake Off Cookbook. Incidentally, I hope some of you saw the bake off when it was on, because it was enormously fun – like someone took all the interesting parts of Masterchef, condensed them into one hour a week, got rid of the endless repetition and commentary, and added amusing musical stings and a very cute, playschool-like pastel coloured kitchen for everyone to work in, in the gardens of Werribee Mansion. Oh, and it was all baking, no annoying savoury dishes with everyone nattering on about protein, where protein must always and only mean meat.
Anyway, much to my surprise, this cookbook turns out to actually have all the recipes from the show that *I* wanted to try, which is very clever of them. Clearly whoever put this together shares my tastes to a remarkable degree. I want to bake everything in the book.
Hello, digression! Getting back to the point, rather than share a recipe that wasn’t mine, I decided yesterday to modify the recipe to something I could share with you. So instead of coffee scrolls, we have these sticky apricot and cardamom buns which are absolutely gorgeous, if I say so myself. They do have quite a strong cardamom flavour, so if you like your spices subtle, you might want to halve the quantity.
The dough, incidentally, is absolutely beautiful to work with – so soft and tender to the touch, just delicious. And I love the method, which is spread out over a lazy few hours… or a frenetic few hours as you run into the study between kneads in order to write endless political posts (only six left now, hooray!) and food blog wrap-ups. It’s strangely relaxing to make.
And the results are glorious.
Your Shopping List275 ml milk (low fat milk or a non-dairy milk are both fine here) 7 g dry yeast 1 egg 450 g bread flour 25 g caster sugar + 1/4 cup for the syrup 1 tsp salt 50 g unsalted butter, plus another 50 g for the filling 1 1/4 cups chopped dried apricots 1/3 cup brown sugar 2 tsp cardamom 50 ml blood orange juice – from about half an orange 2 cups icing sugar
Now what will you do with it?
Heat the milk in a small saucepan. No, not that much. Now it’s too hot, so you’d better pour it into a large bowl and cool it until it feels just gently warm or neutral to the touch.
Sprinkle in the dry yeast, stir it a little, and leave it to sit for a few minutes while you melt the first 50 g of butter and maybe chop up dried apricots for later. This is easiest if you use scissors, incidentally.
Beat the egg into the milk mixture with a fork, then mix in the flour, sugar and salt. Finally, mix in the melted butter. This will be a very, very sticky dough at this point, so don’t panic. Put a cloth over the bowl and go do something else for ten minutes.
After ten minutes, knead in the apricots. Yes, the dough is still sticky, but you will find it has got less sticky. Don’t knead it for very long – maybe a minute or less – just get the apricots distributed through the dough. (This is not a scone situation, where you have to panic about over-kneading, but equally, don’t settle in for ten minutes of bread-kneading, either.) Put the cloth back, and leave it to sit for another ten minutes while you investigate Group Voting Tickets or something.
After another ten minutes, come back, and knead it again for another minute. I like to knead it in the bowl, and I found that if I was a bit patient, I didn’t need to oil my hands, but if you want to knead it on a worktop, flour the surface first. Cover it again, leave it for another ten minutes. Cuddle the cat.
Wash your hands if you cuddled the cat. Knead the dough again for a minute or so. You will notice that the dough is getting softer, smoother, and less sticky after each rest. Nice, isn’t it? Cover it and leave it for another ten minutes. Start making custard for ice-cream because you can.
And knead the dough again. This time, you can leave the dough for an hour or so, until it has risen by half. Which is great, because that custard is really being a pest.
Towards the end of the hour, make the filling. This is easy – melt the other 50 g of butter in a small saucepan, and stir in the brown sugar and cardamom until they are incorporated.
Also, prepare a baking tray by covering it with baking paper.
Lay out a long rectangle of baking paper on your bench, and turn out your lovely swollen mass of dough onto it.
Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a longish rectangle a bit less than a centimetre thick.
Spread the cardamom mixture all over the rectangle as though you were buttering bread. Which, technically, you sort of are.
Now for the fun part! You are going to be rolling this up tightly from the long side closest to you, and it doesn’t really want to roll, because it’s sort of floppy and elastic and heavy, which is where the baking paper becomes handy. Also, the melted buttery part will try to escape a bit. That’s OK, you can handle it. I find that starting at one side and curling it over tightly, and then working my way along a couple of inches at a time helps me get the whole lot through the first turn, after which you can use the baking paper to help continue rolling the dough up. I don’t roll it all the way to the end, because this just encourages the butter to escape – for the last inch or so, I reach over to the far side of the pastry and coax it back over the roll towards me, stretching a little as I do, and then rolling the whole thing so that the seam is partly facing down.
Now you get to slice the roll up like a Swiss roll at intervals of a bit under an inch. I usually get about 11 slices. Put them onto the baking tray about an inch apart from each other as you go – you may need to re-shape them to make them a little more circular as you put them down, especially if your knife was blunt and your slices commensurately squashed.
Cover the tray with the tea towel again, and leave the scrolls to rise for half an hour or so, until they are looking rounded and plump. Now might be the time to make your syrup, which you do quite simply by pouring 40 ml boiling water over 1/4 cup icing sugar and stirring until the sugar dissolves. Now is also a good time to pre-heat your oven to 220°C and put the rack a bit above the half-way point in the oven.
When your oven is ready and your scrolls are risen, bake them for 15 minutes, or until lovely and golden.
While they are baking, make the icing, which is absolutely optional, incidentally – I think it makes the buns a bit too sweet, but it can’t be denied that it comes out a lovely shade of bright pink. To make the icing, juice your blood orange and stir in the icing sugar until it is incorporated. Done.
Incidentally, this might sound like a horrendous washing up experience, but I heat the milk, melt the butter, and later make the cardamom butter in the same saucepan (I do rinse the saucepan after the milk), I make the syrup in a small bowl, and the icing in the rinsed out bowl that I made the dough in.
When the buns are ready, pull them out of the oven and immediately brush them all over with the sugar syrup. This works better if your pastry brush isn’t in the dishwasher, but drizzling the syrup with a tea-spoon is an adequate substitute. Blob a small spoonful of icing onto each hot, syrupy bun – it will melt and spread out a bit, which is what you want.
Eat the buns still warm if you want to be happy all day, or eat them just cooled, or eat them the next day if you absolutely must. They are gloriously soft and tender of crumb for the first day or so, but they do start drying out a little after that, though they still taste great, especially the bits where the cardamom sugar caramelised.
Well, you could make coffee scrolls, with sultanas and cinnamon replacing the apricots and cardamom, and espresso icing instead of blood orange. Or you could make it with cooked or dried and soaked apples and cinnamon, or with any dried fruit and spice combo that appealed to you. Or with jam instead of the buttery spice paste. Or chopped pecans or walnuts in with your spiced butter, which is not my thing at all, but I understand that other people love them. The possibilities are endless, flavour-wise.
In terms of food allergies and such, these are vegetarian and nut-free, of course, but don’t have much else going for them in the allergy and nutrition department. I think you could make them dairy-free fairly readily, with a good margarine and a non-dairy milk. For a vegan version, I’d start with the dough from my saffron bread, removing the saffron, replacing the cranberries with apricots, and otherwise following the method here.
I’m sorry, but I can’t help with a gluten-free version of this – gluten is rather the point of buns like this – but take heart, my next recipe will be quince ice-cream, and you can definitely have that.
I think I need to go eat a bun now.
Two years ago: Recipe: Smoked Trout, Sun-dried tomato and Leek pasta bake